Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Todd Storz is widely credited for the creation of the Top 40 radio format, while credit for perfecting the format goes to Gordon McLendon.
Todd Storz was the director of radio station KOWH-AM in Omaha, Nebraska in the early 1950s. At that time typical AM radio programming consisted largely of blocks of pre-scheduled, sponsored programs of a wide variety, including radio dramas and variety shows.
Local popular music hits, if they made it on the air at all, had to be worked in between these segments. Storz noted the great response certain songs got from the record-buying public and compared it to the way certain selections on jukeboxes were played over and over.
Todd Storz expanded his stable of radio stations, purchasing WTIK-AM in New Orleans, Louisiana, gradually converted his stations to an all-hits format, and pioneered the practice of surveying record stores to determine which singles were popular each week. In 1954, Storz purchased WHB-AM, a high-powered station in Kansas City, Missouri which could be heard throughout the midwest and great plains, converted it to an all-hits format, and dubbed the result "Top 40". Shortly thereafter WHB debuted the first top 40 countdown, a reverse-order playing of the station's ranking of hit singles for that week. Within a few years, Top 40 stations appeared all over the country to great success, spurred by the burgeoning popularity of rock and roll music, especially that of Elvis Presley.
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